US 7740186 B2
An improved shower head having multiple modes of operation. The shower head may include a first turbine and turbine, each disposed within a unique flow channel. The first and second turbines may interrupt water flow through their respective flow channels, thereby providing at least one pulsating water spray emanating from the shower head. The shower head may include a third flow channel having no turbine disposed therein, such that water flowing through the third flow channel is not interrupted and thus emitted from the shower head as a drenching spray.
1. An engine for directing a first water flow, comprising:
a first flow channel fluidly connected to the inlet;
a second flow channel fluidly connected to the inlet;
a first pulsating flow turbine providing a first pulse pattern operatively connected to the first flow channel;
a second pulsating flow turbine providing a second pulse pattern positioned concentric with the first pulsating flow turbine and operatively connected to the second flow channel;
a first outlet of the first flow channel leading to a first set of nozzles;
a second outlet of the second flow channel leading to a second set of nozzles separate from the first set of nozzles; and
a mode selector positioned between the inlet and the first and second flow channels and operable to alternately direct the first water flow from the inlet exclusively to the first flow channel, exclusively to the second flow channel, and simultaneously to both.
2. The engine of
3. The engine of
a flow restrictor operative to restrict the first water flow and therefrom facilitate a second water flow, wherein the second water flow is less than the first water flow.
4. The engine of
a backplate at least partially defining the first flow channel and the second flow channel;
a first detent hole defined on the backplate;
a second detent hole defined on the backplate;
a detent connected to the mode selector and operative to seat within at least the first and second detent holes; wherein
the detent occupies the first detent hole when the mode selector positioned to direct the first water flow to the first flow channel; and
the detent occupies the second detent hole when the mode selector is positioned to direct the first water flow to the second flow channel.
5. The engine of
a third flow channel fluidly connected to the inlet; wherein
the mode selector is further operative to direct the first water flow from the inlet to the third flow channel; and
the mode selector is further operative to direct the first water flow from the inlet to the second and third channels simultaneously.
6. The engine of
7. The engine of
the first pulsating flow turbine is operative to at least momentarily interrupt the first water flow through the first flow channel; and
the second pulsating flow turbine is operative to at least momentarily interrupt the first water flow through the second flow channel.
8. The engine of
the first pulsating flow turbine has a first diameter;
the second pulsating flow turbine has a second diameter; and
the first and second pulsating flow turbines rotate at varying speeds.
9. The engine of
a nozzle web defining a first set of nozzle sheaths; and
the first set of nozzles is received in the first set of nozzle sheaths.
10. The engine of
a housing disposed about the first flow channel, the second flow channel, the first pulsating flow turbine, and the second pulsating flow turbine; wherein the mode selector comprises a mode ring at least partially exterior to the housing.
11. The engine of
a backplate at least partially defining the first and second flow channels; and
a front plate fluidly connected to the backplate, the front plate at least partially further defining the first and second flow channels.
12. The engine of
a first set of two or more blades connected to the first pulsating flow turbine defining at least a first space between the first set of two or more blades; and
at least one flange connected to the first pulsating flow turbine at least partially covering the space between the first set of two or more blades;
further wherein the second pulsating flow turbine further comprises:
a second set of two or more blades connected to the second pulsating flow turbine defining at least a second space between the second set of two or more blades; and
at least one shield connected to the second pulsating flow turbine at least partially covering the space between the second set of two or more blades.
13. The engine of
the at least one flange extends to cover less than a quarter of a circumference of the first pulsating flow turbine; and
the at least one shield extends to cover at least a third of a circumference of the second pulsating flow turbine.
14. The engine of
the first set of two or more blades extends radially inward from the annular ring; and
the first flange extends radially inward from the annular ring between the first set of two or more blades.
15. The engine of
16. The engine of
17. The engine of
18. The engine of
19. A method for manufacturing a showerhead, comprising:
providing an inlet;
providing a first flow channel fluidly connected to the inlet;
providing a second flow channel fluidly connected to the inlet;
placing a first pulsating flow turbine within the first flow channel;
placing a second pulsating flow turbine concentric with the first pulsating flow turbine within the second flow channel, wherein an external diameter of the second pulsating flow turbine is less than an internal diameter of the first pulsating flow turbine;
defining a first outlet of the first flow channel leading to a first set of nozzles; and
defining a second outlet of the second flow channel leading to a second set of nozzles separate from the first set of nozzles.
20. The method for manufacturing a showerhead of
connecting a first set of two or more blades to the first pulsating flow turbine;
defining at least a first space between the first set of two or more blades;
connecting at least one flange to the first pulsating flow turbine at least partially covering the space between the first set of two or more blades;
connecting a second set of two or more blades to the second pulsating flow turbine;
defining at least a second space between the second set of two or more blades; and
connecting at least one shield to the second pulsating flow turbine at least partially covering the space between the second set of two or more blades.
21. The method for manufacturing a showerhead of
22. The method for manufacturing a showerhead of
This non-provisional application claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to provisional application No. 60/606,579, filed Sep. 1, 2004, entitled “Drenching Shower Head,” which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
1. Technical Field
The present invention relates generally to showerheads, and more specifically to a showerhead having pulsating spray and drenching modes of operation.
2. Background Art
Generally, shower heads are used to direct water from the home water supply onto a user for personal hygiene purposes. Showers are an alternative to bathing in a bath tub.
In the past, bathing was the overwhelmingly popular choice for personal cleansing. However, in recent years showers have become increasingly popular for several reasons. First, showers generally take less time than baths. Second, showers generally use significantly less water than baths. Third, shower stalls and bath tubs with shower heads are typically easier to maintain. For example, over time, showers tend to cause less soap scum build-up.
With the increase in popularity of showers has come an increase in shower head designs and shower head manufacturers. Many shower heads, for example, may emit pulsating streams of water in a so-called “massage” mode. Yet others are referred to as “drenching” showerheads, since they have relatively large faceplates and emit water in a steady, soft spray pattern.
However, over time, several shortcomings with existing shower head designs have been identified. For example, many shower heads fail to provide a sufficiently powerful, directed, or pleasing massage. Yet other shower heads have a relatively small face, yielding a small spray pattern.
Accordingly, there is a need in the art for an improved shower head design.
Generally, one embodiment of the present invention takes the form of a showerhead having both pulsating spray and drenching operational modes. Water may flow through an inlet, into a pivot ball, through a pivot ball mount and into a housing, be directed into a side passage formed through the housing, into a flow hole defined in a backplate cap (channeling water from a rear to a front of the backplate cap), be received in one of multiple flow channels defined by the combination of backplate cap front and backplate rear, through a turbine nozzle or internal nozzle into further flow channels defined by the backplate front and frontplate rear, and ultimately through one or more nozzles formed on the front of the frontplate.
Several flow channels described herein may house a turbine. Water flowing into a flow channel housing a turbine typically impacts one or more blades of the turbine, causing the turbine to rotate or spin in the channel. Each turbine generally has a shield or flange extending radially inwardly from the turbine's sidewall. As the turbine spins, this shield temporarily blocks flow holes defined in the appropriate flow channel. such blockage momentarily interrupts water flow to the nozzles ultimate fed by the channel, creating a pulsating spray mode from those nozzles.
Some nozzles may be received in a nozzle web, while others are not. The nozzle web typically takes the forms of a series of soft nozzle sheaths interconnected by soft web members. The nozzle sheaths yield a soft external texture to those nozzles encased therein.
The nozzle configuration, channel configurations, and turbine rotation speeds generally create a relatively soft, intermittent water spray. This spray emulates the speed, impact, and appearance of natural rainfall.
Another embodiment of the present invention may take the form of an engine for directing a water flow, including an inlet, a first flow channel fluidly connected to the inlet, a second flow channel fluidly connected to the inlet, a first flow interruptor operatively connected to the first flow channel, and a second flow interruptor operatively connected to the second flow channel.
Yet another embodiment of the present invention may take the form of a shower head, including an inlet, a flow channel fluidly connected to the inlet, at least one aperture defined in the flow channel, a flow interruptor positioned within the flow channel, and a lifting device operatively connected to the flow interruptor and operative to assume at least a first and second operational mode, wherein the flow interruptor at least intermittently blocks a water flow from passing through the at least one aperture when the lifting device assumes the first operational mode, and the flow interrupter does not block the water flow from passing through the at least one aperture when the lifting device assumes the second operational mode.
These and other advantages and improvements of the present invention will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading this document in its entirety.
Generally, one embodiment of the present invention takes the form of a showerhead having at least two modes of operation namely, a drenching mode, and a rainfall (or pulsating) mode. When operating in drenching mode, water emanates from all nozzles of the showerhead in a relatively continuous fashion (as a specific set of nozzles). It should be noted that “continuous,” as used herein and in this context, may refer to both a regular streaming of water droplets from a nozzle and a steady discharge. By contrast and when operating in rainfall mode, water flow through the nozzles is temporarily interrupted, thus causing intermittent water discharge. This intermittent flow pulses water through the nozzles while backpressure within the showerhead increases the discharge force. Together, the increased pressure and intermittent flow may create a massaging effect when a user is impacted by the water.
Typically, a turbine is used to interrupt water flow and create the massaging effect just described. The blades of the turbine prevent water from flowing through nozzles by blocking the nozzle interior as the blades pass over the nozzles. Water pressure turns the turbine, ensuring each nozzle is blocked only momentarily. A turbine is one example of a flow interruptor; alternative flow interrupters, as known to those of ordinary skill in the art, may be used in alternative embodiments of the invention described herein.
In one embodiment of the present invention, a lever changes the showerhead's operational mode. Moving the lever (or, in alternate embodiments, pressing a button, turning a knob or screw, or so forth) raises or lowers a pair of pins, which in turn raises or lowers the turbine. When the turbine is raised, the blades do not block water flow through the nozzles and the showerhead operates in drenching mode. When the turbine is lowered, the blades may intermittently block the nozzles and the showerhead operates in pulsed mode.
In another embodiment of the present invention, the operational mode of the showerhead may be varied by turning, rotating, or otherwise manipulating a mode selector, such as a mode ring or knob. The mode ring may encircle the showerhead. Rotating the mode ring may divert water from a first flow channel to a second flow channel, or alternatively may divert water to flow into both the first and second flow channels. It should be noted that that more than two flow channels may exist, and that a variety of combinations of water flow through multiple flow channels is embraced by the embodiment.
In this embodiment, a first turbine may be placed in the first flow channel and a second turbine in the second flow channel. The turbines may be of different diameters and/or sizes, and thus may rotate at different speeds. The first and second turbines may generally act to intermittently block water flow through one or more sets of nozzles. Each set of nozzles is generally associated with either the first or second flow channels; certain nozzle sets may be associated with both flow channels (or with other flow channels mentioned above). Further, one or both turbines may optionally be raised or lowered as described above to eliminate or permit this intermittent blockage of nozzles.
The inlet 220 generally extends beyond the housing 210 and is threaded to be received onto (or into) a shower pipe, flexible arm, hose connector, arm assembly, or other device for conveying water to the showerhead. Water flows into and through the inlet 220 from the water source, along the inlet passage 230 connected to the inlet, and through a hole defined in the base of the inlet passage. This hole conveys water from a top side of the inlet plate 240 (on which the inlet passage is at least partially defined) to the base side of the inlet plate 240 and, consequently, the top side of the turbine ring 140.
As water passes through the jets 280, it impacts one or more blades 290 of the turbine 160 situated in a turbine cavity 300 (as shown in
Water impacting the turbine blades 290 imparts rotational motion to the turbine 160. In the present embodiment, the turbine rotates in a counterclockwise fashion. As shown in
When a shield 320 covers or obstructs a nozzle flow aperture 330, water is blocked from entering the flow path. Accordingly, water cannot enter the nozzle channels 340 (discussed below) and pass through the nozzles 350. Thus, for the period of time a nozzle channel is covered by a blocking segment 310, water does not emanate from the nozzles fluidly connected to the nozzle channel. Since the turbine 160 generally spins, each nozzle channel is only momentarily blocked. This creates the pulsating effect discussed above.
Alternately and as discussed in more detail below, the turbine 60 may be raised into the cavity, such that a void space exists between the blocking segments and flow channels. When this occurs, the turbine continues to spin, but water may flow around the side of the turbine and into the nozzle flow apertures 330 via the void space. Thus, the momentary blocking effect of the turbine 100 may be negated. Thus, while the turbine is raised, turbine motion does not impair water flow through the nozzles and the drenching mode is active. In some embodiments, turbine motion may cease (i.e., the turbine may stall) when raised.
As also shown in
As previously mentioned, the present embodiment generally operates in either a rainfall mode or drenching mode. In rainfall mode, water flow through the nozzles 350 is intermittent, creating a pulsating effect similar to rain. In drenching mode, water flow through the nozzles is substantially constant (although such flow may break into individual droplets when exiting the nozzles).
In the present embodiment, the operational mode may be changed from drenching to rainfall, or vice versa, by rotating a knob 360 projecting outwardly from the showerhead. The knob is affixed to or formed integrally with the actuator plate 110, as shown in the exploded view of
The actuator plate 110 is held between the retainer plate 100 and the inlet plate 120 by screws, bolts, or other fasteners 190. Generally speaking, the actuator plate is firmly secured, but may still rotate about the inlet 220. The center of the actuator plate is hollow to accommodate the inlet.
As shown in
As the knob 360 rotates, the actuator plate 110 also rotates. The plate's rotational motion forces the control rods 130 along the control ramps 370 in either an up or down fashion, depending on the direction of rotation. In other words, the actuator plate's rotational motion is converted into a linear motion of the control rods by means of the control ramps. As the control rods rise, the flanges 430 engage the turbine base, raising the turbine 160. Similarly, as the control rods 130 lower, the turbine is lowered.
When the knob 360 is turned clockwise in the present invention, the control rods 130 and turbine 160 are raised and the engine 200 is in drenching mode. By contrast, when the knob is turned counterclockwise, the control rods and turbine lower, placing the engine in pulsating or rainfall mode.
When the embodiment operates in pulsating mode, the turbine 160 is lowered until at least the shield 320 contacts (or nearly contacts) the base of the turbine ring. In this mode, as previously mentioned, the rotational motion of the turbine causes the turbine blocking element or shield to momentarily preclude water flow from the turbine cavity 300 through the nozzle channels 340, and ultimately to the nozzles 350. This interruption occurs sequentially between groups of nozzles as the shield(s) rotate(s) over nozzle channels. Thus, a user of the present embodiment perceives the flow interruption as a pulsating spray exiting the showerhead.
Generally, the inlet 220 and inlet passage 230 are formed contiguously with the inlet plate 120. In some embodiments, the inlet and/or inlet passage may be separately formed and affixed to the inlet plate. Since the inlet 220 is part of the inlet plate 120, the inlet plate is the first element through which water passes. In the present embodiment, four screw holes project outwardly from the circumference of the inlet plate. Screws 190 are received in these holes to affix the retainer 100 and inlet plates 120 to one another, securing the actuator plate 110 therebetween. Additionally, two control rod apertures are formed in the body of the inlet plate. The aforementioned control rods 130 pass through these apertures to ultimately contact the turbine 160.
Alternate embodiments of the present invention may employ a hydraulic system 440 to raise or lower the turbine 160, as shown in
For example, and with particular respect to
Still with respect to
The front side of the backplate 670 defines a second annular, or backplate, channel. The front side of the backplate mates with or is otherwise affixed to the rear side of the frontplate 690. A frontplate annular ring 740 (or simply a frontplate ring) is defined on the rear surface of the frontplate. A second turbine 680 is received within this frontplate ring 740. The second turbine may be, but is not necessarily, concentric with the first turbine about a longitudinal axis of the shower head.
Relatively hard, plastic nozzles 750 are formed on the front side of the frontplate. These nozzles are received within a nozzle web 700 made of a soft or rubber-like material. Generally, the nozzle web takes the form of a series of flexible nozzle sheaths 760 interconnected by a series of flexible members 770 (as shown to best effect in
The nozzles 750 are received in the various nozzle sheaths 760. Typically, each nozzle is fitted into a single nozzle sheath. The nozzles protrude through holes extending through the face plate 710. The face plate is shown to best effect in
The face plate 710 is affixed to a base cone 530. The base cone provides an outer housing for the various elements described herein, with the exception of the inlet 500, mode ring 640, and the face plate. All other elements are typically covered by the base cone 530. In the present embodiment, the base cone is generally a frustoconical in shape, with an outward angle from the inlet 500 to the face plate 710. Alternate embodiments may employ different shapes for the base cone. For example, the side walls of the base cone 530 may be angled outwardly instead of inwardly, maybe straight, or may take a more rounded than frustoconical shape.
The flow of water through the shower head and the function of each element within the shower head will now be described in more detail with reference to
As shown in
With reference to
Continuing with the description of water flow through the shower head, water exiting the radial channels 790 of the pivot ball mount 800 flows into the housing annular ring 825. The hole in the center of the housing annular ring 825 typically is completely blocked by the circular projection 795 of the pivot ball mount. However, a side channel 830 is formed in the rear housing. Thus, water flows from the housing annular ring 825, into the side channel 830, and to the housing 570 front. The side channel includes a hole or tunnel 840 passing through the housing 570 to permit such flow. This tunnel 840 is shown to best effect in
It should be noted the housing 570 further includes a radially-extending protrusion 850 emanating from the housing body. This protrusion 850 interacts with the mode ring (described later) to change the pulsating operational mode of the shower head. Such changes to the shower head operation are described in more detail below.
A first turbine 660 sits within the turbine channel 920 formed on the backplate rear. This first turbine 660 is shown generally in
The flanges 900 extend inwardly and slightly downwardly from the turbine ring 1080, as shown to best effect in
As water exits the radial channels 790 emanating outwardly from flow channel A′, it impacts one or more of the turbine blades 890 shown in
Thus, as the turbine 660 spins, water is periodically prevented from flowing through one or more turbine holes 910 by each flange 900. Since the flange spins about the turbine channel 920 with the turbine, water flow through the turbine holes is prevented sequentially. This, in turn, prevents water flow into the v-shaped channels 940 formed on the front of the backplate 650. Ultimately, these v-shaped channels feed one or more nozzles 750. Thus, as the turbine 660 spins, water flow to each of the specific nozzles 750 fed by the v-shaped channel associated with each turbine hole pauses, creating a pulsing water flow.
A series of detent holes 950 may also be seen in
Water entering flow channel B′ is directed along a circular flow path 1120 defined in the middle of the backplate 670 rear, shown to best effect in
As shown on
Water passing through the angled backplate nozzles 960 N1, N2, and N3 impact the blades 980 of this second turbine 680, causing the turbine to spin. The turbine generally spins about a central protrusion 1130 formed on the backplate front, which is received in a central hollow 1140 or female portion formed on the frontplate rear. As shown in greater detail in
In operation, water channeled through the center spray nozzles 1020 is emitted as a gentle spray at a generally lower flow rate than water emitted through other nozzle groups. The center spray nozzles 1020 may be replaced by nozzles of different diameters for different flow patterns. In yet other embodiments, the center spray nozzles (or any other groups of nozzles) could include a diffuser situated within or operatively connected to the nozzles to emit a mist from the nozzles.
When the shower head is fully assembled, a u-shaped prong 1040 projecting inwardly from the circumference of the mode ring 640 engages the protrusion 850 extending outwardly from the housing 570. Such engagement is shown to best effect in
Further, a projection 1200 on the front of the housing 570 forms a tunnel-like structure to prevent water from splashing or otherwise dispersing across the rear surface of the backplate 670. This tunnel 840 is shown to best effect in
Located circumferentially about the outer edge of the housing is a detent cavity 1050 (shown in
Water may also be provided to two adjacent flow channels 870 simultaneously, resulting in water being emitted from multiple nozzle groups 1000, 1020 in a “combination spray.” The series of detent holes marked A′/B′, B′/C′, and C′/D′ accept the detent when the side passage 830 is positioned halfway over each of the corresponding flow channels. Thus, for example, water may be channeled to both flow channels having turbines therein simultaneously.
Finally, water may be supplied to either flow channel A′ or flow channel D′ to create a relatively soft spray from the associated nozzles. For example, positioning the mode ring 640 and housing 570 so that the detent seats within the detent hole 950 marked “half D′” yields partial water flow into flow channel D′, and a soft center spray from the associated center spray nozzles.
Any of the embodiments described herein may also be equipped with a so-called “pause mode.” While operating in a pause mode, water is channeled through some form of flow restrictor, such as a properly-sized channel or aperture, to provide minimal water flow to one or more nozzles 750 on the frontplate 690. Water flows through these nozzles at a low flow rate. Typically, water flows along the frontplate in pause mode, although in some embodiments it may be emitted a short distance beyond the frontplate. In yet other embodiments, activating a pause mode may prevent any water flow from exiting the showerhead.
Additionally, and as referenced above, the showerhead may emit water in a manner emulating a gentle rainfall. Rainfall emulation is generally performed by appropriately sizing the nozzle orifices. The nozzle orifices are sized such that the volume of water flowing therethrough is larger when compared to standard showerheads. This, in turn, results in a decrease in water pressure for water emitted from the appropriately-sized nozzles. The lowered water pressure yields a more gentle water spray.
In the present embodiment, two nozzle sets are generally used to create rainfall water sprays. The nozzles fed by flow channel C′ and the radially-extending channels 1010 emit a steady rainfall spray, and may be referred to as “rain nozzles.” The nozzles fed by flow channel A′ and the V-shaped channels 940 emit a pulsed rainfall spray, and may be referred to as “pulsed rain nozzles.” In the present embodiment, the rain nozzles have an orifice diameter of approximately 0.037 inches, while the pulsed rain nozzles have an orifice diameter of approximately 0.048 inches. Alternate embodiments may vary the orifice sizes to change the volume and pressure of water flow therethrough, or may vary the orifice sizes of other nozzle groups to emulate rainfall as well.
Although the invention described herein has been disclosed with reference to particular embodiments physical characteristics and modes of operation, alternative embodiments may vary some or all of these elements. For example, certain embodiments may omit one or both turbines, while other embodiments vary the flow channels to which any or all of the flow holes A, B, C, D lead. as yet another example, the lifting device of the first embodiment may be used with one or both turbines of the second embodiment The other embodiments may employ a rationing mechanism or stop to prevent the mode ring and housing from turning beyond a certain point. In still other embodiments, the nozzle web may be omitted. Accordingly, the proper scope of this invention is defined by the following claims.